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Getting a Head Start on Experiencing World-Leading Research: Germinating the Seeds of Science at OU

Discovering Leaders in Science and Technology

The SEEDS Program is a program that germinates the "seeds" of interest in science hidden in high school students by having them interact with the latest in science and technology. Prof. SUGIYAMA Kiyohiro (Chair, SEEDS Committee, CELAS) told us, "I hope this program will lead to the discovery of future leaders in science and technology and that it will become a new trend in linking high school and university."

The SEEDS Program consists of 2 programs: the "Experience Program" in students' 1st year and the "Application Program" in the students' 2nd year. The Experience Program is made up of 3 main pillars: (1) "Science and technology Experiences," in which students participate in omnibus-style lectures and tours on the latest in science and technology, (2) "Science Research Experiences," in which students experience research in various courses of their choosing, including those in materials, life, math, and applied technology sciences, and (3) "International Exchange Experience," in which students interact with individuals from overseas in English. In the "Application Program," students actually enter the lab and perform research to have even deeper experiences in science.

Motivation for Their Studies in High School, too

"The aim in having students take a wide variety of courses in the Science and Technology Experience Program is to have students find a research topic that they want to pursue without limiting themselves to a particular field of interest," said Prof. Sugiyama. The "Sprout Session" after each lecture is another large feature of the program. "Because simply listening to the lecture is not effective for understanding and retention, students break into small groups and hold discussions. Undergraduate and graduate students of similar age act as facilitators to support these discussions, so even those students who were at a bit of a loss at first seem to begin to enjoy discussions with individuals who have similar interests to them."

In "Science Research Experience," courses in 39 world leading research projects have been prepared especially for students in the Graduate Schools of Science, Engineering, and Engineering Science. Prof. Sugiyama has served as an instructor himself, teaching students on the topic of "Observing quantum oscillation using a world-class intense magnetic field." "I have had students who, after learning that the things they learned in their high school text books are actually used in leading research, have told me that they wanted to study even harder in high school. It was a pleasant surprise to see a boost in their motivation."

Germinating the hidden "SEEDS" of Science

The first class of students in 2015 (83 boys and 48 girls) finished the "Experience Program" as of the closing ceremony on February 20. 28 students from this group have been selected to continue to the "Application Program," in which they have been involved in research on topics of their choice over 5 sessions in laboratories on campus since April 2016.

In the 2016-17 academic year, this program will recruit participants (capacity: 130) to the "Experience Program" as the 2nd class students. The examination for testing applicants' comprehension, thinking skills, problem solving ability, and motivation will be held in June.

"I'd like those high school students who may have hidden abilities, but have never had a chance to experience research, to apply and learn about the appeal of scientific research."

I want to create an environment in which students can independently grow

In the 2016-17 academic year, the program will introduce a new start-up camp during the summer holidays. Prof. Sugiyama said, "I'd like to improve the learning environment so that high school students can interact closely with each other, develop better mutual understanding, and become friends, while motivating each other and continuing to grow."

Prof. Sugiyama also spoke about the fun of scientific research: "It's knowing something that you didn't know before. There is an excitement in research similar to searching for the criminal in a detective novel." At the same time, "In research, you'll often get results that differ from what you expected, but not considering these things as failures and instead using what you've gained to continuing your pursuit is what science is about.

I want the students to gain this attitude and way of thinking through the SEEDS Program."

Student Interviews

Extending your field of vision to worlds you weren't previously interested in

HIRAMATSU Reisa (2nd year, Seifu Nankai Senior High School)

In the future, I'd like to go into medicine, so I applied for this program after learning that I could experience research in medicine at OU. In my first year in the program, I listened to lectures in a variety of fields, which opened my eyes to worlds that I previously had no interest in, such as radiation. I was also able to apply difficult equations to specific phenomenon, such as universal principles, which gave me more confidence. In the "Sprout Sessions," I was surprised at the amount of knowledge and different viewpoints of other students, which gave me motivation to work harder. In my 2nd year, I'll choose a laboratory that deals with regenerative medicine and begin research on a topic that I'm interested in. Every session is so much fun, I'm really glad I participated in the SEEDS Program.

Your views on the world of research will change

MORI Toko (2nd year, Shitennoji Senior High School)

I like science, so I applied for this program in order to gain information for thinking about my path for the future. In my first year, my range of interests expanded, and I learned that one could approach a single research topic from a variety of angles. Speaking in front of people used to be a weakness of mine, but through the "Sprout Sessions," I was able to voice my own thoughts little by little, and I realized that through speaking, I could get a better grasp on my own knowledge level. I'm happy that I'll be able to learn in detail about a topic that I want to study and experience actual research. The teachers are friendly, too; participating in the SEEDS Program has changed my perception of the world of research. If you're interested, I really hope that you apply.

Message from Faculty in the "Application Program" 

Find what you want to do and select your university through experiencing research

Professor SAKAI Shinji (Department of Materials Engineering Science, Graduate School of Engineering Science)

In our laboratory, we're involved in the development of technology for regenerative medicine, so we perform research using gel that is compatible with the body and cells. In fact, medical fields, such as regenerative medicine, grow with the support of various advanced technology developed in related fields. I hope this research experience will help students find what they really want to do in the future and become an impetus for selecting a university. The world of research is advancing outside of what's written in textbooks, so you never know what will happen. But, the higher the wall you must overcome, the more fun you'll have and the more accomplished you'll feel, a feeling I want students to experience for themselves.

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